Turmeric or Haldi, with its heady aroma and ancient legacy, is truly a favorite! It is not only an indispensable part of our kitchen but also a very important part of every Indian household. From cuts and beauty hacks to auspicious occasions, turmeric finds its way into everything. In the kitchen, turmeric is used to add warm color and flavor to rice and lentil dishes. It accentuates the earthy flavor of a good Indian vegetable broth adding healing and antiseptic properties especially when one has the sniffles. Haldi doodh or Turmeric latte was made by grandmothers when anyone was feeling under the weather. Research now suggests that the concoction alleviates the senses and gives the body a boost of antioxidants.
Turmeric, which is a root plant in the ginger family, has been used for centuries in Indian cooking as a spice (usually found in curry), but also as a treatment for a variety of ailments, from headaches, to arthritis, to the common cold!
So what is this supposed wonder-spice, and how does it really work? Well, the power really lies in a chemical called curcumin. Although most normal servings of Turmeric in spice form do have enough curcumin to really be seriously effective. This is why experts suggest a curcumin extract or supplement, in dosages of around 1 gram per day.
Curcumin is thought to have potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which together can help in many aspects of maintaining a healthy body. Chronic inflammation is thought to play a key role in many chronic diseases, and antioxidants have been proven to decrease free-radicals in the body, which can help in fighting off cancer cells.
Here are some top uses of Curcumin:
Not only does curcumin fight free radicals, but it also boosts the body’s own antioxidant enzymes.
It has recently been discovered that a protein in the brain called Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), is responsible for maintaining neuronal growth, which can prevent degenerative brain diseases like alzheimer’s. The good news — curcumin has been found to increase levels of BDNF, helping to prevent, and possibly even reverse brain denigration.
Curcumin has also been found to have positive effects on many factors that cause heart disease, such as inflammation of arteries, and decreasing levels of plaque in the blood stream.
Studies show the anti-inflammatory properties can ease arthritis pain, but might be more effective at preventing joint pain, and boosting immune system responses.
So the verdict: rubbing copious amounts of turmeric paste on your joint pain, or eating a lot of curry probably won’t have stellar effects on the ailments you are trying to cure, but a healthy dosage of the curcumin supplement could have lasting effects — both preventative and restorative — on a whole slew of diseases and chronic conditions.
So keep some of this golden treasure in your kitchen and season your next batch of one-pot lentil and rice for a burst of warmth and mellow yellow color!